Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is putting pressure on Chris Smalling to recover from injury in order to replace Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly.
Smalling has battled against injury in recent times, while Bailly returned from a serious knee knock to play for United in their Europa League clash away to Zorya Luhansk on Thursday night.
However, the Ivorian is set to miss a big chunk of United’s season in January and February when he joins the Elephants in Gabon for the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations title.
“Bailly is a big loss but we know that,” said Mourinho in the wake of the Europa League clash. “So let’s hope that Smalling can recover in time to replace him in the squad.”
Smalling has been ruled out of the Red Devils’ Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, but Mourinho will be hopeful the England international returns in the coming weeks.
Bailly has been a revelation for United since joining from Spanish side Villarreal in the European summer.